Minor Roman Basilicas: Santa Prassede

The basilica of Santa Prassede is dedicated to St. Praxedes, a second century saint and the sister of St. Pudentiana. This particular basilica is amongst the older churches of Rome, being dated in its current form to the year 780, having been commissioned by Pope Hadrian I to house the relics of the same. As is so often the case with these Roman basilicas, what lay underneath it is also of interest, namely the remans of a Roman bath that was said to be owned by the family of S. Pudentiana -- both of whom were martyred for providing for a Christian burial for some of the early Roman martyrs. 

The basilica includes splendid mosaics, but before we show you those, it also includes a splendid facade of a paleochristian variety. 

Simple, to the point, and very Roman. 

However, the very simple exterior is augmented by an interior which is extraordinary in particular for its mosaics, commissioned by Pope Paschal (817-824) as well as a beautiful ciborium magnum. (Pope Paschal himself may be found in the mosaics, bearing a square halo -- a sign given to someone who was yet living.) 

The apsidal mosaic contains and image of Christ, St. Peter, St. Paul as well as St. Prassede and St. Pudentiana. 

Around the apse are found a number of interesting mosaics, including the Lamb and the seven lamps of the Book of Revelation. Also of interest are the depiction of numerous martyrs, holding their martyrs crowns, which are found to either side of the apisdal arch. 

The mosaic programme continues onto the triumphal arch which separates the sanctuary from the nave. Here are great host of figures are to be found. 

As mentioned, the basilica boasts a great ciborium magnum as well which is obviously much newer than the basilica itself, but it integrates and harmonizes well with the rest of the structure.

A visit to this basilica must also include the chapel of St. Zeno -- a funerary chapel that Pope Paschal built for his mother Theodora. The chapel includes a number of impressive mosaics:

The next time you are in Rome, especially Santa Maria Maggiore which is relatively near the basilica of S. Prassede, don't skip out on this particular treasure. 

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